Paramount to provide Mirage F1 training to ATAC


Paramount will train Mirage F1 pilots belonging to American company ATAC (Airborne Tactical Advantage Company) after ATAC acquired 63 ex-French F1s and Paramount acquired four ex-French F1B trainers.

This is according to the January edition of Air Forces Monthly magazine, which reported that ATAC is getting ready to receive its first F1s currently in storage in Chateaudun, France. Belgian company SABCA is starting to refurbish the first 32 airframes before they are delivered to the United States, with ATAC completing the remaining jets.

According to Air Forces Monthly, ATAC is also receiving 157 Atar 9K50 engines, 84 Cyrano IV radars, 72 drop tanks and parts, tools and test benches.

Out of the 63 ex-French Air Force F1s it is receiving, 32 of these are in good condition and can be restored to flying status with little effort. The other 31 need major work to be restored to flight, or are suitable for spare parts. ATAC’s F1s will receive a new avionics suite with GPS, transponder and traffic collision avoidance system, amongst other items.

ATAC aims to have 40 flyable F1s and perform its first mission with the type in September 2018 – it will have 8 000 hours available for training on the F1s, according to Air Forces Monthly.

ATAC took over the 63 F1s in September last year with the aim of using them for the US Air Force’s adversary air (ADAIR) programme. According to Flight Global, this contract is worth an estimated $7.5 billion over ten years, and would contract out nearly 37 000 flight hours to provide adversary air services. A final solicitation is expected this month, with a contract award in 2019.

Draken International has previously been awarded a short-term ‘red air’ contract for adversary training.

Paramount in October 2017 announced it had acquired four ex-French Air Force Mirage F1Bs from the French government “to enhance its pilot training capabilities”. The company on 5 October said its subsidiary Paramount Aerospace Systems would use the twin-seat aircraft as part of its pilot and maintenance technician training services.

France’s L’Echo Republicain reported that Paramount acquired the four Mirage F1Bs in June 2017 through Paris-based consulting firm Eurotradia International for around two million euros. They were transported out of France at the end of August after five Paramount employees spent two weeks preparing the aircraft for transport.

Paramount is no stranger to the Mirage F1 – in 2003 the South African Air Force put 21 Mirage F1 aircraft up for disposal by way of Armscor and Paramount subsequently purchased the entire Mirage F1 package, including airframes, spares and support equipment in 2006. Paramount Aerospace has sold F1s to Congo Brazzaville and Gabon.

Paramount said it has extensive capability on the Mirage F1 with full airframe and engine overhaul capability, as well as the ability to upgrade, modernise avionics and mission systems.

Picture: Tony Osborne